Communicating with our kids is one of the most pleasurable and rewarding parts of parenting. Children learn by absorbing information through daily interactions and experiences not only with us, but with other adults, family members, other kids, and the world.
The more interactive conversation and play kids are involved in, the more they learn. Reading books, singing, playing word games, and simply talking to toddlers will build their vocabulary and teach listening skills.
Here are a few suggestions to help improve your child's communication skills:
Between the ages of 2 and 3, kids experience a tremendous growth spurt in language skills. At the start of this period, most kids can follow directions and say 50 or more words. Many combine words in short phrases and sentences. Kids this age usually can follow two-step instructions, such as "pick up the ball and bring it to Daddy."
By age 3, a toddler's vocabulary usually is 200 or more words, and many kids can string together three- or four-word sentences. Kids at this stage of language development can understand more and speak more clearly. By now, you should be able to understand about 75% of what your toddler says.
Kids should be using language freely and starting to solve problems and learn concepts. They usually can engage in a simple question-and-answer session. They also can count three objects correctly, begin to tell stories, and know their first and last name.
If you think your child is having trouble with hearing, language development, or speech clarity, talk to your doctor. A hearing test may be one of the first steps in determining if your child has a hearing problem. Age 2 is not too young for a referral for a speech/language evaluation, particularly if a child is not following directions, answering simple questions, or saying enough words.
Communication problems for 2- to 3-year-olds include:
Stuttering and articulation problems are common at certain ages and most kids will outgrow them. Other problems may need further evaluation. Your doctor will discuss whether your child would benefit from speech and language evaluation and treatment. A child who also appears to be delayed in other areas of development may be referred to a developmental pediatrician or psychologist.
Some parents worry that a toddler who is not speaking may have autism. Children with autism and related conditions may have delayed speech or other problems with communication, but poor social interactions and limited or restricted interests or patterns of behavior are also hallmarks of this disorder.
If you have any questions or concerns about your child's development, talk with your doctor.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: August 2014
|American Speech-Language-Hearing Association This group provides services for professionals in audiology, speech-language pathology, and speech and hearing science, and advocates for people with communication disabilities.|
|Association for Research Into Stammering in Childhood (ARSC) The ARSC is a British organization that funds scientific research into the causes of and treatments for stuttering in children and young adults.|
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|Zero to Three Zero to Three is a national nonprofit organization that promotes the health and development of infants and toddlers.|
|Medical Care and Your 2- to 3-Year-Old Regular well-child exams are essential to keeping kids healthy and up-to-date with immunizations against dangerous diseases. Here's what to expect at the doctor's office.|
|Fitness and Your 2- to 3-Year-Old Kids this age are naturally active, so be sure to provide lots of opportunities for your child to practice basic skills, such as running, kicking, and throwing.|
|Hearing Evaluation in Children Hearing problems can be treated if they're caught early, so it's important to get your child's hearing screened early and evaluated regularly.|
|Autism Autism affects a child's communication and social skills, behaviors, and ability to learn. There's no cure, but early intervention and treatment can help kids improve skills and achieve their best potential.|
|Auditory Processing Disorder Kids with APD can't process what they hear as other kids do, because their ears and brain don't fully coordinate. But early diagnosis and therapy can improve their hearing skills.|
|Stuttering Many young kids go through a stage when they stutter. Stuttering usually goes away on its own but in some cases lasts longer.|
|Speech-Language Therapy Working with a certified speech-language pathologist can help a child with speech or language difficulties.|
|Growth and Your 2- to 3-Year-Old During the third year of life, toddlers are extremely active and mobile, and are learning in very physical ways.|
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